Officials protest move in letters

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Governor Bob McDonnell and the mayors of Suffolk, Norfolk and Virginia Beach have appealed directly to the president within the past week to save U.S. Joint Forces Command.

McDonnell sent letters Aug. 13 to both President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asking for reconsideration of Gates’ decision to close the Norfolk-based command, which has a site in Suffolk that employs 2,200 military, civilian and contract staff members.

The governor’s letters point to the significant job loss that would result from shuttering JFCOM, continuing suggestions that such a recommendation should only have come on the heels of an extensive review by the Base Realignment and Closure commission and questions over the strategic gap that could be left by such a closure.

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“Now is simply not the time to engage in reducing the war fighting capabilities of the United States military by reducing the resources required by the military to execute the mission assignments of this nation,” he wrote.

Similarly, Linda T. Johnson, William D. Sessoms Jr. and Paul D. Fraim — the mayors of Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Norfolk, respectively — wrote that “JFCOM is critical to ensuring that our nation’s military trains and operates in a joint manner that supports military readiness and budgetary efficiencies.”

They also charged that the closure circumvented an established process in BRAC that had been developed to provide “transparency and accountability” in the base closure process.

“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we expect that you will agree that closure of any military activity that is as large as JFCOM should be conducted through a proven, apolitical process such as the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) process.”